Richard Perkins, a well-known and longstanding player in Minnesota investment circles, died Saturday at 88 years of age. Perkins was president, portfolio manager and director for Wayzata-based Perkins Capital Management Inc., which he founded in 1984.
Perkins, known to many simply as “Perk,” had a reputation for focusing investments on emerging local companies and small cap stocks. A report in 2008 said that the firm managed approximately $300 million for individual and institutional investors. His sons Richard C. Perkins and Daniel Perkins worked with their father in the business.
"Perk was an icon in this town. He played such an important role in making sure that small companies, early-stage companies, succeeded…providing support and guidance, he was a director on I don‘t know how many companies,” said Tony Carideo, president of the Bloomington-based Carideo Group which provides legal services and investor relations for corporate clients. “He was instrumental.”
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was more common for relatively new companies to go public through an IPO.
"There were all these little health care companies, and all these little technology companies. They were shooting stars at the time,” recalled Carideo. “When I was at Kinnard, we always used to hear a lot about Perk.”
John G. Kinnard & Co. was a Minneapolis-based brokerage firm which was started in 1977 and was bought out in 2000.
"We started doing deals together in 1972,” said Chris Dahl, a longtime friend and co-investor with Perkins.
Dahl said that Perkins deeply researched potential investments and didn’t have much interest in some of the standard leisure activities for business professionals.
"He read voraciously,” said Dahl. “He didn’t play golf, he didn’t play tennis…he played business.”
Dahl started the Children’s Broadcasting Corp. in 1990 and launched Radio AAHS, a locally-based radio network aimed at children. At its peak, the format was heard on 32 stations nationally. CBC went public in 1996; Dahl says that Perkins was a key player.
“He did this a long time before people realized what the value of these small-cap stocks were,” said Dahl.
Bill Spell, founder and president of Minneapolis-based Spell Capital Partners LLC, was another longtime friend of Perkins. Spell noted that Perkins was more than an investor and served on the board of directors for many of the companies that he backed.
“He was a real ace,” said Spell. “Not only did he support them with his money, he would support them with his time. It’s not just the money, it’s the time.”
Spell said that Perkins belongs on a “very short list of people” who worked over decades to help shape the Twin Cities business community as it is today.
“He was an excellent investor,” said Spell. “He was a good friend and a good guy.”
Early in his career, Perkins was the assistant endowment fund manager for the Mayo Foundation in Rochester. He joined what was then Piper, Jaffray & Hopwood Inc. and spent 19 years at the company, first as a vice president, then senior vice president.
Perkins was honored with a lifetime achievement Outstanding Director award by Twin Cities Business in 2012 for his extensive board service. Perkins, who was 81 at the time, had served on more than 20 boards over the previous three decades.
“I think he was the last of a dying breed,” said Dahl. “In many ways, he was one of a kind.”